Double-Digit Growth for Holiday Gift Card Sales Could Fuel First Quarter Boost for Retailers

Data from Blackhawk Network analyzes 2021 holiday spending trends and potential impact on 2022

Holiday gift card sales could give retailers a boost in the first quarter of 2022 according to new research1 from global branded payments provider Blackhawk Network. The findings, based on consumer research and Blackhawk’s own U.S. sales data, found a strong double-digit increase in gift card sales during the 2021 holiday season, with most surveyed consumers planning to use their gift cards between January and March.

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“As we enter the third calendar year of the pandemic, 2022 will likely be yet another year of evolution and innovation for retailers”

A whopping 82% of surveyed consumers report that they plan to use their holiday gift cards in the first half of the year. With nearly half (47%) of consumers planning to spend more than the value of their gift card, that is good news for U.S. retailers as they assess what the first half of 2022 will look like. Of those who are planning to spend more, 41% of surveyed consumers say they anticipate spending at least $50 more than the amount they were gifted.

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“As we enter the third calendar year of the pandemic, 2022 will likely be yet another year of evolution and innovation for retailers,” said Brett Narlinger, head of global commerce, Blackhawk Network. “But one constant bright spot over the last several months—and as we look ahead— continues to be gift cards. From acting as a digital on-ramp for cash-based consumers and small business, to becoming a stopgap for inventory and shipping issues over the holiday, consumers continue to look to gift cards. As retailers plan and budget for 2022, gift card programs can have a big impact on success.”

While supply chain bottlenecks and shipping delays, in general, did not prove to be as big of a holiday gifting hurdle as originally anticipated, 36% of surveyed shoppers did report having to find an alternative gifting option for someone on their list due to out-of-stocks or shipping lags. Of those surveyed that ran into inventory or delivery issues, nearly 40% purchased a gift card instead. Overall, 30% of the consumers surveyed said they purchased more gift cards this holiday than last holiday season.

Blackhawk Network works with approximately 37,000 corporate and government partners and has approximately 400,000 channel touchpoints around the world. Blackhawk connects with more than 300 million shoppers worldwide daily.

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